…As debate stirs rowdy session
Taiye Odewale, Abuja
Senate on Wednesday rejected the nomination of four candidates and nine others by President Muhammadu Buhari for appointment as members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) over lopsidedness over appointments.
This was as debate on the rejected appointments stirs rowdy session in the senate which led to hurried closed door session that lasted for about 30 minutes .
Those rejected into the membership of EFCC were Ndasule Moses, Lawan Mamman, Galadanci Imam Najib and Adeleke Adebayo Rafiu, who are respectively from North West, North East, and North Central.
They were rejected by the senate on the ground that the executive failed to comply with Federal Character Act in their appointments by leaving the South East and South – South out of the appointments despite the fact that the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu and Secretary of the Commission, Kayode Olanipekun Olukoyede are from North East and South West respectively.
Those in the ICPC who were also rejected included: Bolaji Owasanye (South West), Grace Chinda (South South), Okolo Titus (South East), Obiora Igwedibia (South East), Olubukola Balogun (south West), Adamu Bello (north West), Hannatu Muhammed (north west), Abdullahi Maikano Saidu (north central), Yahaya Umar Dauda (north central).
The observation for their rejection was raised by senator Victor Umeh ( APGA Anambra Central) who pointed out that there was no nominee to represent South East and South South, just as he said additional nominees were appointed to represent North West and South West, despite that they are already being represented.
This observation attracted agitation from other senators, especially those from South south and south east.
Efforts by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, to convince the senators that the EFCC and ICPC Acts do not make it compulsory for the President to spread the appointment across the zones of the country, failed.
More altercations and outcries by the senators resulted in a rowdy session, which forced the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to call for emergency closed session, during which the senators resolved to reject the nominees for failing to meet with the Federal Character Act.
Presenting the report of the committee, the chairman senate committee on Anti Corruption, Chukwuka Utazi, admitted that the appointment is in breach of Federal Character principles.
He said out of the four nominees by the President, three are from the North, while only one is from South. According to him, the Chairman of EFCC is already representing north east, while the secretary to the commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede, is already representing the South West.
Briefing journalists after the confirmation report presented by the committee was rejected, Victor Umeh said he raised an observation against the nominees because they did not reflect Federal Character.
He said the committee report captured that the nomination does not comply with the principles of equity and fairness, adding that if the report of the committee was passed, it would have been miscarriage of Justice and against the spirit of oneness.
According to him, it would have shutout the south east and south south out of an important agency like the EFCC.
Speaking earlier on the report, Senator Ali Ndume ( APC Borno South) , called the attention of the senate that nobody is representing the north east in the ICPC, urging the senate to address the lapses.
He cautioned that the appointments must not be seen to be lopsided.
Similarly, Enyinnaya Abaribe ( PDP Abia South) who vehemently opposed the report, said everybody is affected by the injustice, charging them to speak out now or decide to shut their mouths forever.
The Senate President, Bukola Saraki in his remarks after the emergency closed door session said : ” the Senate resolved at the closed door session to step down confirmation of the nominations for not meeting up with the principle of federal character .
” Accordingly the decision will be forwarded to the presidency for the required corrections in the spirit of fairness and equity “.